President confers International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy
Dr N S Dharamshaktu has been recognized for dedicating several years of his life towards fighting leprosy.
President Ram Nath Kovind conferred the International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy on February 6, 2020. The awards were presented to Dr NS Dharmashaktu in the individual category and the Leprosy Mission Trust under the institutional category.
The International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy commemorates the compassion that Mahatma Gandhi possessed and his services towards people with leprosy. The awards aim to recognize the outstanding work by individuals and organisations to fight leprosy and eliminate the prejudices associated with it.
International Gandhi Awards for Leprosy Winners
1. Individual Category
Dr. N S Dharamshaktu: He has been recognized for dedicating several years of his life towards fighting leprosy.
2. Institutional Category
Leprosy Mission Trust India: The institution has been tirelessly working for and with the people afflicted by Leprosy for over a century.
Mahatma Gandhi was a big crusader against leprosy and he carried great compassion for patients with leprosy. He had understood the social stigma surrounding the disease and worked tirelessly to integrate those with the disease into society. Gandhi believed that leprosy was not contagious. At that time, the prejudice against the disease was extremely rigid and those with leprosy were considered as outcastes.
The International Gandhi Award for Leprosy was constituted by the Gandhi Memorial Leprosy Foundation. The foundation was established in 1950. Since then, it has been leading the efforts to completely eradicate the disease and erase the stigma surrounding it.
India has achieved a lot in its fight against leprosy in the past years. It has successfully restricted of leprosy to less than one case per ten thousand population. The stigma and prejudice surrounding the disease has also reduced considerably.
However, new cases continue to occur and the major challenge in leprosy control activities is in sustaining the same level of focus and commitment, especially in areas with low resources and that are less accessible.
In 2019, Yohei Sasakawa of Japan was honoured with the Gandhi Peace Prize for his efforts to eliminate Leprosy in India and work towards the welfare of leprosy patients. In 2018, the Indian government had recognized Damodar Ganesh Bapat with Padma Shri in 2018 for his work with Leprosy patients in Chhattisgarh.